Canadian Laws Inadequate - ICUCEC Refused Leave to Appeal McClean Lake Court Case

Statement by the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Cooperative (ICUCEC):

The decision not to grant leave for the Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Cooperative to appeal its case to the Supreme Court of Canada represents a hollow victory for the nuclear industry, vindication for ICUCEC and a dark day for the environment and for present and future generations.

ICUCEC originally took Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), now known as Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), to court for its failure to follow proper procedures in the granting of licenses with respect to the McClean Lake JEB Uranium Tailings Pit. Cogema, now known as Areva, was sufficiently concerned that they sought intervernor and party status in the court case. After meticulous scrutiny by the Federal Court Trial Division ICUCEC won its case. AECB and Cogema responded by seeking a stay on the decision pending an appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal. Cogema also endeavored to secure its operation by applying for a new license in the event the original license was illegal. The Appeal Court hearing was held in Calgary. The environmental and health issues were obfuscated by economic issues resulting in overturning the original lower court decision. Hence, ICUCEC applied for leave to take the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court without written reasons denied leave to ICUCEC.

Although the court has brought legal closure to this case, the tribunal of mother nature is still ongoing. The next decade or so will bear witness to the devastation in Northern Saskatchewan from the McClean Lake Jeb Uranium Tailings Pit, which was the focus of the court case. Eventually the ground water contamination from the uranium tailings (including arsenic, radium & heavy metals) will contaminate large areas in the north and south, reaching out to the seas. This will add to the radioactive and chemical pollution buildup worldwide causing a sharp increase in genetic damage, more cancers and neurological disorders among human and non-human populations. We are leaving a shameful nuclear and toxic legacy to our children and grandchildren and to their children for generations to come.

ICUCEC has been vindicated for its many years of hard work. Not only does it prove its contention that Canadian laws are grossly inadequate to protect the health of people and the environment but the courts have essentially gutted existing weak Canadian environmental laws. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is a sieve, full of holes. It is just like the JEB Pit which is nothing but a giant hole in pourous sandstone that is supposed to forever contain radioactive and poisonous uranium wastes. Neither the Act nor the pit offers protection for the public or the environment. Indeed the Court decision is a green light for the further weakening of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the manner in which CNSC monitors, regulates and grants licenses to the nuclear industry. The higher courts have yet again ruled in favor of the politically powerful uranium and nuclear industry. Their victory comes at the expense of the environment and present and future generations.

The very fact that ICUCEC had to go to court was due to the fact that our politicians failed to fulfill their responsibilities. Politicians need to wake up and do their job and enact better laws and demand higher standards. The fact that ICUCEC won its case at the Federal Court Trial Division not only shows that the issues at stake are serious and not frivolous but that better environmental laws and stringent inspection are an absolute necessity. The people of Saskatchewan need to wake up and demand better protection and accountability by politicians, the regulators, and the industry.

ICUCEC has used all legal mechanism at its disposal: the Enviromental Assessment processes, the licensing hearing processes and the courts. Its attempts to protect present and future generations from a toxic future failed because the legal means available are weak. As we look to the future ICUCEC will be exploring other peaceful alternatives to continue its work for environmental justice. Now that the legal case is over ICUCEC intends to go on retreat, to fast, pray and seek wisdom.